Note: Sorry I missed last week everyone! I was away, and also I’ve been working on other projects and I realized the post was not ready. Anyway, here’s the John and Alexia interlude I’ve been working on for a while.
Alexia Dumanis pouted as the wagons rolled away. She’d begged to go to Dovetail, but instead she was stuck in Dorin. She was ten years old, she knew how to stay out of the way. It didn’t make sense. Her brother Tristan was going and he was only eight. Practically a baby.
“Don’t be sad, Lexie,” her sister Andrea said and petted her hair gently. “I know it’s not as exciting but you are going to be a big help for me with the wedding.” Alexia looked up at Drea.
“I want to see the city though,” she sighed.
“You’re going to live there one day,” Andrea gently pushed her inside. “And then you’ll be telling your husband that you just want to come back to Dorin.” Alexia frowned. Her marriage to Sir John Dugarry was spoken of with such finality. But she was never sure if it was going to happen.
“But wouldn’t it be better if I went to Dorin and I found out if Sir John liked me?” Alexia knew better than to add and if I like him. No one in her family cared if she liked Sir John.
“Why wouldn’t he like you, sweetheart?” Drea smiled and cupped her face. Alexia sighed. “Cheer up, without Papa here I think it would be a good idea for us to try all the different cakes I have to choose from instead of dinner.”
“Really?” Alexia said. “Mama said it would make us stout.”
“Eh,” Drea flipped her hands, “we both already have husbands picked out, we can eat as much cake as we like.” Alexia giggled following her sister.
“This is boring,” Prince Anton said as they stood in the secret passageway outside of his father’s office, but John Dugarry rolled his eyes at his friend and charge.
“I didn’t make you come,” John said, “and shh, we’ll get caught, and I’ll catch a beating.”
“I would too,” Anton frowned.
“No you wouldn’t, you’re the prince, everyone lets you do whatever you want,” John said. His father was sitting in a meeting with a merchant named Carland Dumanis.
“I’d like to meet the boy,” Dumanis said, “if it’s at all possible.” John’s father, Avery frowned at that.
“I don’t think it will be,” Avery said, “my wife and I still worry this is all too early. We of course planned on sending John to Dorin when he’s older, but he’s a protector, it’s a lifetime commitment, and a great deal of John’s future is wrapped up in Prince Anton’s. Whoever he marries will need to understand that.”
“Since when are you getting married?” Anton made a face at him.
“Shh!” John hissed. “Since always. My parents made the match. Merchants do it all the time.”
“But you’re not a merchant,” Anton said. John shrugged. It wasn’t worth trying to explain it to Anton.
“Are you having second thoughts, Avery?” Dumanis said slowly. “That would be unfortunate.”
“No,” Avery smiled, not taking the bait, John felt a swell of pride at his father. “But I want to be clear, this moves on our timeline, mine, and my sons. Not yours.” Dumanis frowned but nodded and they shook hands and he left. “You two can come out of there now,” Avery called. Anton looked at John, they pushed the secret door and walked out. “Your Highness, I am very disappointed in you.”
“It was John’s idea!” Anton said indignantly.
“Yes, but John follows your orders,” Avery said, “may I have a moment with my son?” Anton nodded and rushed out mouthing, ‘I’m sorry,’ while John glared at him. “So what did you think of him?” John raised an eyebrow. “Dumanis, what did you think of him?”
“He’s arrogant,” John said, “and he doesn’t like not getting his way.” Avery nodded. “Is he dangerous?”
“Very,” Avery said. “But you’re right about his arrogance.” He clapped John on the shoulder. “Don’t do that again, or at least don’t bring Anton, he’s terrible at sneaking.”
8 Years Later
John lay on his bedroll staring up at the stars. They’d reach Dorin tomorrow, and he couldn’t sleep.
“You are thinking so loud, that it’s keeping me awake,” Tom said, and John rolled over and looked at him. “So you might as well talk.”
“I don’t know,” John said softly, “I always knew this was coming, I should be ready. But I’m just, not. Everything is running though my head. What if I don’t like her? What if she doesn’t like me? What if I do something to offend her sisters? What if I offend her father? What if we’re fine but we get back to Dovetail and Anton can’t stand her? Or Livvie does that thing where she acts like she’s complimenting another woman, but she’s really saying something that makes her cry?”
“Well,” Tom said, “first of all, Livvie hasn’t done that to Marie and she and Anton were actually something, so I think your Alexia is safe from that.” John laughed. “And if she doesn’t like you, I’ll convince her otherwise. And if you don’t like her, I’ll offend her father so that you can leave without it being your fault.”
“You’re a good friend,” John said, “I mean relatively useless in this context and I should have asked literally anyone else to come with me, but I know you’re trying.”
Alexia looked in the mirror and frowned. Briana walked in and saw her piling her hair on her head and looking over her shoulder.
“What are you doing?” Brie laughed. Alexia sighed.
“I don’t know,” she said, and flopped on the bed. “Is he here?” Briana shook her head. “What if he hates me?”
“I don’t see how that’s at all relevant,” Brie said. Alexia looked at her. “Even if he hates you, you’re beautiful and rich and his father made an agreement with Papa, so I doubt he’ll back out.” Alexia frowned.
“You have just named the only scenario worse than him hating me,” Alexia said, “he hates me and marries me anyway because he’s afraid of Papa.” Brie laughed.
“He’s not going to hate you,” Brie said softly. “And if you hate him, Amos has already agreed to ship you to his brother in Rastan, so you’ll be fine.”
“Ugh,” Alexia stood up. “You’re not helping. When does he get here?”
“Oh, he’s in the parlor,” Brie smirked. “Trey’s with him, and his representative.” Alexia gulped, “Well, I was going to tell you but then you were being dramatic.” Alexia frowned and walked downstairs. She started to make her excuses but also she was immediately struck by the way he was staring at her.
“John, this is the part where you talk,” his friend said with a smile on his face. Alexia swallowed.
“I’m John,” he managed, “it’s nice to finally meet you.” Alexia’s entire body released. Trey and the other boy excused themselves.
“It’s nice to meet you too,” she managed. “Should we sit, I think there’s supposed to be lunch, did your friend want,” she took a deep breath. “I’m a little nervous.”
“Me too,” he said and they sat down. “Tom should have introduced himself, that was rude.” She smiled and then stopped.
“Tom?” She said. He nodded. “That’s Thomas Martin?” He laughed.
“Of course you’ve heard of him, don’t tell him that, his head is already far too inflated,” John said. She giggled.
“He’ll be busy,” she said, “there are plenty of families that would take a son from a noble family, and a reputation as the best warrior in the kingdom.” John Dugarry smirked.
“They’ll be disappointed,” he said. “Tom is engaged.” She smiled. “I’m sorry this didn’t happen earlier. I kept expecting you to be with your family when they would come to Dovetail.” She rolled her eyes.
“I think my father was afraid you’d get bored of me,” she said. “I was never allowed to go.”
Bored of her. John wanted to throw the tea cup he’d picked up when she said that. He’d assumed that meeting Alexia would be pleasant. But he didn’t expect that he’d be sitting opposite probably the most beautiful girl he’d ever seen. He kept thinking about how he felt like he was going to swallow his tongue.
Or kiss her until she fell over. He really wasn’t sure. Gods, she was gorgeous though.
“Sir John?” She said softly. “Is everything alright?” He swallowed. “You look very pale.” He took a deep breath.
“I’m sorry, I,” he sighed, “it was a long journey.” She smiled and nodded.
“Of course,” she said. “And it isn’t as though we don’t have time. Our whole lives, in fact.” He smiled at that. “Let me show you to your room.” She stood up and he followed her with a large swallow. Room. Bed. Alexia. Alexia in his bed. All that blonde hair, which was long down to her waist, and her wide green eyes, a little bit lighter than his own, her lips, which default seemed to be pouting.
“Thank you,” he managed. She nodded and left him. He sighed. He was going to figure out how to actually talk to her, while looking at her. Might be tricky.
Alexia went to her room and fell back against the bed and giggled. Normally she got annoyed at the vacant and distracted look on men’s faces and manner when she walked into a room, but with Sir John, she was pleased by it. Probably because he seemed more shy than lascivious, and because it was a good first step.
“So, how did it go?” Trey said from the doorway. She sat up.
“Fine,” she said, “you?” Trey scowled at her.
“He’s engaged,” he pointed out. “To a woman.”
“These are not factors that have ever deterred you with anyone else,” she said. He sighed and sat down with her. “Are you going to tell him about the time you saw him fight in a tournament when you were thirteen, and then spent the rest of the summer writing poetry about him?”
“I am not,” Trey said. “Do you like him? Sir John, I mean?”
“I think so,” she sighed and leaned back again. “He likes me.”
“Yes, that was obvious,” Trey said. “They’re going to have to mop up the drool.” She giggled.
“I suppose I was born to be adored,” she exhaled. Trey laughed and looked at her and shook his head.
John was standing in the large ballroom, tugging at the sash on his formal guard uniform. He hadn’t worn it in a while, and it didn’t help that he was standing next to Tom, who looked like some kind of dream in his.
“Relax, will you,” Tom muttered to him. “You’re making me anxious.” John glared at him.
“I’m going to say something embarrassing to her,” John mumbled. “You saw her right?”
“Yes, she’s very beautiful,” Tom mused. “The brother’s interesting.”
“Tom, don’t you dare,” John growled, his friend grinned.
“If you think Livvie stopped flirting when we left,” Tom shrugged. “I won’t let it go too far, John don’t worry.” (Reenie’s Note: HAHAHA…Irony) Tom went to argue some more when he lost his breath. Alexia had entered the room and she seemed to be shining. “Go to her,” Tom said, with a gentle nudge. “You won’t get any better without practice.” John exhaled and walked over and took her offered hand and kissed it.
“Miss Dumanis,” he said.
“Sir John,” she smiled. “I hope you’re don’t mind our little celebration.” He laughed.
“Certainly not,” he said. “I’m supposed to dance with you first, correct?” She nodded.
“Yes,” she said. “Though not right this moment.” He nodded. “I want to show you something,” she said softly. He nodded and followed her into a parlor off of the ballroom.
“What is this?” He asked, she smiled and kissed him softly. He migrated his hands to her waist. “I see, thank you for showing me.”
“I thought you might find it interesting,” she said and crossed her wrists behind his neck. “I certainly have always been curious.” He smiled and then kissed her again. She was sweet and supple, accepting him gently.
“What will you father say?” He teased. She pulled back at looked up at him.
“My father would deliver me bound naked to your bed, if it would finalize this,” she said. He frowned and she left his arms.
“I don’t know that I would ask him for that,” he tried. She looked at him. “If this isn’t what you want, I understand.”
“No,” she said, “I just,” she sighed. “I’ve always felt trapped by it. And that isn’t your fault, so please don’t apologize.” He smiled.
“It was freedom for me,” he admitted. “I lived my whole life a step behind someone else. And I was able to live with it because I knew there was something he couldn’t even fathom waiting for me.” She smiled shyly. “Alexia,” he said, and cupped her cheek. “Open your heart to me, or at least don’t close it off.” They kissed softly again and the door opened. Andrea walked in.
“There you are,” she said. “Honestly, Lexi, I know you hate these but you’re being unforgivably rude.” She looked at the two of them. “Goddess, you two met six hours ago,” John looked down abashed, “out, now,” She snapped her fingers and pointed and they both flew off of the couch and back into the ballroom, Alexia giggled as they walked back.
“Your sister is terrifying,” John whispered. She laced her fingers through his.
“You have no idea,” she whispered.
Two months of parties and dinners, and Alexia spent a lot of time watching John, and kissing him, as finding alcoves and empty rooms to kiss had become their general routine. They talked too, which was nice but not quite as nice as the kissing.
One night they were back at the house and they were in the front parlor. The kissing had begun in earnest and she’d found herself beneath him.
“John, wait,” she whispered as he moved to her neck, “oh,” she exhaled, but he paused. “Why did you stop?”
“You said to,” he mumbled. She swallowed.
“Right,” she said, “so, we should probably,” he nodded and they kissed again. “John, we can’t,” he raised his eyebrows. “We aren’t married.” He stared at her.
“Lexi,” he said. “We’ve been betrothed since we were eight years old, and we’ll be married in three months.” She frowned up at him. “Or we can wait, if it’s important to you.”
“It isn’t important to you?” She asked and sat up. He sighed.
“I forgot about,” he sighed. “So you’re a virgin?” She nodded, now feeling a little bit silly.
“You aren’t?” She asked. He frowned. “But you said,” she started and scooted away.
“The kind of fidelity you grew up expecting wasn’t really,” he sighed. “It’s different at court.” She scowled at him and stood up and started walking out. “Lexi,” he sighed but she was already out on the back terrace. She swallowed.
“Oh,” she stopped seeing Captain Martin standing there. “I’m sorry, I’ll go.” She turned.
“It’s alright,” he said, “it’s your house, I can’t hog the best brooding spots.” She smiled. “I thought that you and John would be,” she glared at him. “Or not.”
“Apparently,” she huffed, “it wouldn’t mean anything to him.” Tom frowned at her.
“I’m not sure what you mean,” he said. She crossed her arms.
“And I suppose dallying with my brother will be just excused by Lady Olivia Bano too,” she said, “as these things just mean nothing in Dovetail.”
“No, I can assure you I would find myself in a great deal of pain if I dallied with your brother and Olivia found out,” he smiled. “And I think I understand what you’re talking about now, and I have to tell you it isn’t as though John was cycling through girls or anything.” She sniffed and looked at him. “When we were younger Anton would,” he sighed, “when he wouldn’t like a girl, John would have to speak to them.” She stared at him.
“That’s awful,” she said. Tom shrugged.
“Yes, and sometimes they would, well, think that being with John would,” he sighed. “Well, I’m sure you can imagine.” She gaped at him. “Anyway, that’s rather slowed down in the past few years.”
“Oh,” she said. He looked at her. “What is happening with you and my brother?”
“We are friends,” Tom said, “and I am getting married.” She side eyed him. “What did he say?”
“The same,” she smiled. “I don’t believe him either.” He shook his head. “I want to trust him.”
“John wouldn’t betray you, Alexia,” he said. “He made some mistakes, and believe me he carried the hurt of it enough.” She swallowed.
John lay on top of the covers of his bed, unsure what he should do next. He’d hurt her, and it was the last thing he’d wanted. He’d forgotten that Alexia’s virtue was a part of the deal, because it felt so horribly transactional. The door opened and he sat up, seeing her slip in, wearing a simple white night gown.
“Lexi,” he said, “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to,” he said.
“Tom explained to me,” she said, “girls would use you, to get to the Prince?” John looked at her.
“Everyone, not just girls, I’m a conduit,” he said, “but yes, I, there were a few.” She sat down on the bed. “A few trying to get to Tom, too.” She kissed him.
“They didn’t see you,” she whispered. He shook his head. “You said thinking of me was freeing.” He smiled.
“You were mine,” he said, “before you’d even seen me, or I’d seen you. It didn’t have anything to do Anton, or his dramas, that was,” he sighed, “it meant everything to me, Lexi. And I know that you didn’t see it the same way, but being here with you,” she kissed him.
“I understand,” she said, “I’m one of a set remember? Three sisters, all meant to increase my father’s power.” He cupped her face. “I never thought of this, of us, being something outside of that.”
“We can never speak to your father again if you like,” he shrugged. She giggled.
“I don’t think it needs to be that extreme,” she smiled, “but I don’t want betrothals, for our children.” He nodded.
“I think that’s a sensible compromise,” he whispered and pressed a kiss against her forehead. She looked up and kissed him properly. “Lexi, I think you ought to go.” She smirked.
“Do you?” She mumbled and straddled him. He looked at her.
“You don’t want to wait,” he said, his hands against her thighs.
“No,” she said, “I think I’m falling in love with you.” He smiled.
“Well, since we’re getting married, that’s very convenient,” he teased. She laughed. “I know I’m falling for you.” She smiled.